HALEY JAMES

May 10, 2023

I’ve Been Struggling With Feeling Behind In Life & Here Are 5 Things I’ve Been Doing To Help Change My Mindset

I’ve Been Struggling With Feeling Behind In Life & Here Are 5 Things I’ve Been Doing To Help Change My Mindset

Can we get real for a second? Have you ever felt like everyone around you is just killing it in life, while you’re over here barely keeping your head above water? Because same. I’ve been struggling with feeling like I’m behind in life, constantly comparing myself to my peers who seem to have it all together.

It’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap and start measuring your own progress against that of others. And when it seems like everyone around you is achieving so much more than you are, it can be hard to shake that feeling of inadequacy.

I can definitely relate to this feeling, as it’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. Watching my friends and peers travel the world, move up in their careers, get married, have kids, and achieve so many amazing milestones over the last decade – while I was just at home trying to stay alive – definitely made it hard for me to feel like I wasn’t incredibly behind. I feel like my life paused for a decade and I just can’t catch up. It’s so painful and one of the things that has been the hardest to deal with over the last few years.

But over time, I’ve learned that there are ways to overcome this feeling of being behind in life. It takes work and effort, but it’s definitely possible to shift your mindset and start focusing on your own progress and accomplishments. And therapy has been a really valuable resource in helping me work through these feelings and gain some perspective.

It’s also been really reassuring to know that this feeling is super common. So many of us struggle with it, even if we don’t talk about it openly. But by sharing our experiences and supporting each other, we can start to break down the barriers of comparison and focus on celebrating each other’s unique journeys.

That’s why I wanted to share with you 5 things I’ve been doing to help me overcome this feeling of being behind in life. These are strategies that have and still help me and I hope they can help you too. 

Whether you’re feeling stuck in your career, struggling with personal relationships, or just feeling like you’re not where you “should” be in life, I hope these tips can help you get past those thoughts of being behind and back into the mindset of creating the timeline you are creating for yourself.

Focus on your progress, not perfection

It’s easy to get caught up in what you haven’t accomplished or where you feel you should be in life. So it’s important to remember that progress is not always linear, and every small step you take towards your goals is still progress!

I know I’ve personally been struggling with this because my small steps towards my goals and any progress that I’ve made doesn’t feel like I’m getting any closer to my peers. 

For example, I have spent years working towards being able to eat food (or at the very least tolerate my feeding tube formula) so that I’m getting all the nutrition I need and can just move forward with my life. There has been so much progress made on that front from spending five years trying to get a diagnosis, to going across the country to see specialists, to fighting for treatments to be approved and legislation to be changed, to spending hours every week getting these infusions – just to be able to get nutrition and “eat” food – something other people my age don’t even need to think twice about being able to do. 

It has made me feel so behind and ashamed that I can’t just get past it and catch up to them. When I really sit with it though and try to focus on the progress I have made – not in comparison to them – but in comparison to ME, to MY story, MY setbacks, where I was 2, 3, 10 years ago – I am so proud of MY progress.

Something my therapist reminds me of is that oftentimes I exclude my struggles and setbacks from the narrative I tell myself, comparing my life to people who have not had to face the things I have. When I remove my struggles and setbacks from the narrative, I also eliminate my progress and accomplishments, and everything I should be proud of, forgetting that I also have a lot to be proud of and celebrate.

I know it might sound lame to do this, but honestly it has helped me with my perspective shift so if you begin to feel behind, remember to acknowledge YOUR narrative, YOUR accomplishments and YOUR progress because it’s the small steps you take that truly add up and get you towards your goal!

Practice gratitude

When you’re feeling down about your current situation, it can be helpful to shift your focus to the positive things in your life. One thing you can do is take some time each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for, whether it’s something as simple as a beautiful sunset or a loving relationship with a friend or family member. A gratitude practice can help shift you from a lacking mindset to an abundant mindset, one where you see everything you have not everything you don’t.

Whenever I find myself feeling behind, I make a conscious effort to shift my focus onto the things that I am grateful for, and when I make sure I relate it back to my situation – it really does help me shift my mindset.

For instance, even though being sick can be incredibly difficult and make me feel like I’m not keeping up with others, I am also grateful that it’s taught me how to prioritize and appreciate health & wellness in a way that I don’t think you can until you have lost it. 

I feel behind because I had to live with my parents for most of my 20’s, but I am grateful I got so many extra years with them where it was just us, getting to make so many memories that I know I will cherish forever.

I feel behind because I don’t have a career like my peers, but I am grateful because I learned early that finding a way to do what you love matters and because of my situation, I have the perspective and time to create that job for myself. 

Honestly, once I start going, I keep thinking of more and more, and it really helps take me out of that negative mindset loop of comparison. It helps me see all the great things I do have that may not fit the societal timeline that doesn’t actually exist – but fits me and what I want out of my life, and I am grateful for that.

Challenge negative thoughts with evidence

When you’re feeling behind, it’s easy for negative thoughts to take over and lead to a downward spiral. Instead of letting these thoughts consume you, try to challenge them with evidence. Ask yourself, “Is this thought really true?” and “What evidence do I have to support or refute this thought?” By questioning negative thoughts and looking for evidence to the contrary, you can begin to shift your mindset towards a more positive outlook.

Yeah – this is TOTALLY one of those “I learned this in therapy” moments. Probably 2-3 times a session, my therapist has to say, “Well, hang on Haley, is that actually true?” after I present her with all my reasons for why I’m behind. It usually ends with me rolling my eyes and saying, “Well, technically no, but it feels that way.” and we move on to talk about what the evidence actually points to. 

For example, I want to be able to eat again, but it’s easy to sit here and cry and start to think, “I’ll never be able to eat real food again. I’m never going to get better. I’m always going to be sick and never be able to move on with my life.”

My therapist will say, (trust me I’ve said this one enough to know what she would say haha), “Is that really true though? Do you have concrete evidence that you’ll never be able to eat again or is that something you are just thinking because it has not happened yet? Do you think there is a chance your medications could kick in? Maybe that there might be a cure one day? That maybe your body could heal? Have you talked to your doctor about if there is anything else you could be doing that you haven’t tried yet? Do you need to be able to eat in order to move on with your life or do you think your feeding tube and other treatments could help make it so you get what you need and allow you to take steps towards what you want to be able to do – without necessarily being able to eat in the way you are thinking?”

Then my response would be, “Well, the research shows that some people might get better, but it’s been years and I haven’t improved, so what makes you think it will ever change? There could be a cure one day, but what if I don’t get one in my lifetime? If I can’t stabilize my health, how could I ever be well enough to move on?” This is when I start to get more into the weeds of how my statement was more of a blanket statement and not actually a true statement, even if it can feel true right now. 

An example of what we might do is begin to talk about all the evidence against my statement. So, for example, we might say that in the last year, I have made significant improvements compared to years prior so what makes me think that that progress isn’t going to continue? Or maybe talk about how my doctor had evidence of another girl like me getting off her feeding tube after 3 years of IVIG treatment and I am not at the 3 year mark yet, so we don’t actually know because we haven’t reached that estimated time marker. This might mean scheduling an appointment to check in with my doctor to see if there is anything else we could do that we haven’t tried yet to continue to improve so I can begin to take steps forward with my life in this area. Then we might talk about how I could take steps toward moving on with my life while still not being able to eat and identify what that actually means and take tangible steps towards it. 

By looking for evidence and challenging the statement, I can begin to shift my mindset towards a more positive outlook and start taking actionable steps towards achieving my goals which can help change the mindset behind the absolute thinking that we often find ourselves in when it comes to being behind. 

Take action towards your goals

If you’re feeling behind, it can be helpful to take action towards your goals, even if it’s just a small step. Setting achievable goals and taking action towards them can help build momentum and a sense of accomplishment. This can help shift your mindset from feeling behind to feeling empowered and in control of your own life.

Whenever I start to feel behind in life, something that I have found to really help me is to stop, pause, go outside, get some air, and then think about all my goals relating to what I would think would help me move forward from where I am at to where I want to be. Then I would pick the easiest things I could do on that list to start moving forward and do them so that I could gain momentum and begin to make progress towards my goals that move me in the direction I want to go in.

This helps me because it takes me out of my head and into actual action. At the end of an hour, instead of crying about it and being in the same spot I was in when I started, I would then be in a spot where action has been taken towards getting to where I want to be. I start to see it being more of a possibility or a work in progress than this big unattainable thing I will never be able to achieve.

It helps me start to see how I can move my life in the direction I want and that I am not as stagnant as it may look like, feel or seem. I’m taking small steps to get where I want to go and where I want to be to create MY life and even if that takes a little more time, I’m at least moving towards it. 

Talk To Others

Feeling behind can be isolating, but connecting with others can help you gain perspective, support, and also be more in touch with the reality of what others’ lives are actually like. 

This has been a huge one for me. Whenever I start to feel behind and I talk to the people in my life about their own lives I usually realize one of two things:

1. Their life is not a life I want. That might sound weird, since feeling behind is often the result of comparing our lives to others and sensing a lack in our own. However, when you actually talk to other people, you realize that to achieve what they have, they had to make choices and sacrifices. They gave up certain things and lived in a certain way to attain that life, and it may not align with what you’re willing to do or even something you desire.

An example of this would be, I talked to a friend who seemed like they had everything – they boasted about their job, their new house, their significant other, and how they were expecting a healthy little one in the coming months – everything seemed perfect. When I really talked to them, though, I realized that they were also sad and confused why they weren’t as happy as they thought they would be.

In order to get the “perfect” life and to stay within society’s timeline, they got married sooner than they should have and realized they had not been together long enough to know they had some major differences in how they wanted to live their lives. They realized that to have their own house like they wanted, they had to move far away from their families, where they now will be having a baby with no family and no friends around to help support them. They work a job they boast about because of the pay, but they actually hate the work and feel stuck in it because they need the money to afford their new house and don’t feel like they can get out of it – living in a way that they feel they will never be able to pursue their dream job. They are expecting a little one, but were sad and annoyed because they felt like they hadn’t had any time to pursue their dream and now were feeling locked into a life they didn’t actually want because they stuck to the timeline and did what they thought they were supposed to do, without realizing it may not have been what they really truly wanted.

Now if they had the choice between my life and theirs – I can pretty much guarantee they would pick theirs – BUT would I? Actually, no. 

I wouldn’t, because while my life may feel and even look really behind everyone else’s, I am also in a position where I have been forced off the path in a way, leaving me to forge my own – something I may not have done if I hadn’t been pushed off it.

This has made me question what I want, what my priorities are, how do I want to get where I am going, and in many ways have to work harder to get there – which makes me appreciate it so much more. 

That may be where you are too – feeling behind and like you can’t catch up to everyone else – frustrated, tired, sad. But maybe instead, you can think of this as an opportunity for you to stop and ask yourself what you actually want your life to be and look like, and go on to create a timeline that gets you there – where you actually want to be.

Now, returning to the story about my friend and how I wouldn’t choose their life, that is not to say I look down on what they have chosen or anything like that at all! If you were to offer them the perspective and opportunity to dissect and analyze my life and the choices I’ve made, there is a 99.999999999% chance they would pick their life too – as I said earlier. But that is kind of the whole point – our lives are our own lives, and the way we live them is for ourselves. We decide what is important to us, what we are willing to sacrifice, what we are willing to do to get where we want to be. We decide what it means to work towards and create a life we truly love and want to live. If we just all follow a fake timeline, we may not get or do what we actually wanted to. At the end of the day, we are the ones who have to be okay with the life we choose, even if it isn’t the life someone else would choose for themselves.

2. A lot of people in their later years are unhappy, and many of them are confused because they followed the timeline. They did what they were supposed to, in the time and way society dictates, but then they achieved it all and realized it wasn’t actually what they wanted. Now they feel stuck, unable to change their situation because they made commitments or created a lifestyle that has them living a life that isn’t true to what they really want. Then, looking around at the people who didn’t follow the timeline and created their own, they now feel behind and stuck, much like how you are feeling today.

So, as my therapist says – if you want to be genuinely happy with your life – then you probably don’t want to follow the same roadmap a lot of unhappy people blindly followed.

I find it is super important to remember this, because while you may be unhappy or feel behind now, if you are actively taking steps to create  a life that is true to what you really want to do, be, and live – then you are setting yourself up to live a life where you will be so happy that you won’t even feel the need to compare it because you know it’s yours. 

It helps me to actually talk to and connect with people in their later years who feel like their life passed them by and that they were so busy doing all the “right things” they never took the time to actively engage with or question if that path was right for them. ALSO talk to the people who do not feel that way, who feel that they created a life that they love living and are so excited about – because when I do – oftentimes, the difference is that the person who created that life they love, had to break from some part of the fake timeline to create it. 

Think about movie stars or celebrities – how many times do you hear the story of how they were on their last $10, working as a waiter to help get by while they chased a dream for years that had not come to fruition, something many others would have abandoned due to feeling behind, only to then get a role that changes their entire life and has them now getting to do what they love every single day, living a life they created – and a timeline that was all their own that got them there. 

I know this last point was long, but I have found it to be one of the most effective ways to combat feeling behind because it takes you away from making up a story of someone’s life that you want and puts you in their life long enough for you to see the reality of it, and when you really look at it and realize it’s not what you want, it might give you a new appreciation for your own. 

I'm not going to tell you that you aren't behind

It’s so important to remember that at the end of all of this – your life is your own, and you have the power to create your own timeline. Society may push this fake timeline, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow it blindly.

If you’re feeling behind or like you’re not where you’re “supposed” to be in life, take a step back and ask yourself: what is important to me? What do I truly want to achieve or experience in life? Once you have a clear idea of what you want, you can start taking intentional steps towards making it a reality.

Like I said earlier, many people in their later years are unhappy or unfulfilled because they followed a prescribed timeline without questioning whether it was truly right for them. But you don’t have to fall into that same trap. By prioritizing what is important to you and actively working towards your goals, you can create a life that is true to you and brings you genuine happiness.

Remember, it’s never too late to start. Whether you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties, or beyond, there’s always time to make changes and create a life that aligns with your values and desires. Don’t let negative thoughts or societal pressure hold you back from pursuing your dreams. You have the power to create your own timeline and live a life that is truly your own.

What did you think of these 5 tips to change your mindset? Do any of them resonate with you? I’d love to hear if they’ve been impactful! You can share your thoughts with me by commenting below OR by tagging me on the gram @itshaleyjames_ 🙂

xx I love you, I mean it

DISCLAIMER

Please note that all content on this page, website, and any affiliated resources is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of treatment from a physician. NO information on this page or website should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. Additionally, please be aware that some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, from which I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through those links.

Hi! I'm Haley James

I’m a California-based purpose-driven, multi-passionate entrepreneur, chronic illness & rare disease advocate, speaker, podcaster, designer, YouTuber, content creator and really, at my core, just a woman who wants to love & help support people in creating lives they love!

How did I get here? Well, after getting really sick in my early 20’s and spending years fighting for my life, I realized I not only was fighting to live, but to live a life I truly loved! 

Now I’m on a journey to creating that life for myself and want to bring you along so you can create a life you love too! I hope you’ll join me!

Hi! I'm Haley James!

I’m a California-based purpose-driven, multi-passionate entrepreneur, chronic illness & rare disease advocate, speaker, podcaster, designer, YouTuber, content creator and really, at my core, just a woman who wants to love & help support people in creating lives they love!

How did I get here? Well, after getting really sick in my early 20’s and spending years fighting for my life, I realized I not only was fighting to live, but to live a life I truly loved! 

Now I’m on a journey to creating that life for myself and want to bring you along so you can create a life you love too! I hope you’ll join me!

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I love connecting with people in this community! It’s my favorite thing that I get to do and this is one of the places I love to do it!

I only ever want to send you things I truly believe in my heart will serve you, support you, equip you, empower you and make you feel seen, heard & loved! Which to me means 0% spam & 100% all good things!

As a welcome gift, you’ll instantly unlock a 10% discount on your first store purchase, gain immediate access to my most popular free guide and of course friendship with me and this community! We can’t wait to have you!

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Come Be Part Of
The Bloom!

I love connecting with people in this community! It’s my favorite thing that I get to do and this is one of the places I love to do it!

I only ever want to send you things I truly believe in my heart will serve you, support you, equip you, empower you and make you feel seen, heard & loved! Which to me means 0% spam & 100% all good things!

As a welcome gift, you’ll instantly unlock a 10% discount on your first store purchase, gain immediate access to my most popular free guide and of course friendship with me and this community! We can’t wait to have you!

YAY! I'm So excited to have you joining this community!

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YAY! I'm So excited to have you joining this community!

As promised here is your first welcome gift! Just click below and it’ll automatically download!

Also, be sure to check your email to make sure you received my welcome email that has your 10% off discount code so you can get another gift for yourself because you deserve it!

YAY! I'm So excited to have you joining this community!

As promised here is your first welcome gift! Just click below and it’ll automatically download!

Also, be sure to check your email to make sure you received my welcome email that has your 10% off discount code so you can get another gift for yourself because you deserve it!